Thursday, 12 January 2012

Defeat Salmond to win referendum vote

Nick Clegg told Sky News earlier that Alex Salmond is "terrifically slippery" over the details of what Scottish independence would mean. It is rare I say this but Nick Clegg is right, but I'm not sure those in favour of saving the Union know how to deal with this problem.

As well as slippery Alex Salmond is also calculating. Both he and Angus Robertson, the SNP group leader in Westminster, used the words "Thatcher" and "Thatcheresque" repeatedly when referring to David Cameron’s efforts to save the Union. This is just one example of where he successfully uses his TV appearances to position, manoeuvre and define his opponents.

This is a pressing issue which, talking to various government advisors yesterday, the coalition and indeed Labour have failed to grasp. If they don't soon, Salmond will go on defining the terms of the debate despite the vote possibly being over two years away. If this happens the vote will be lost.

Salmond will try to engineer the contest so that it appears to be between the SNP in Edinburgh and the Tories in Westminster. Or he will paint himself and the SNP as the underdogs with the might of London politics lined up against him. He will goad opponents on, then claim to be campaigning in a positive way and "on the issues that matter", all the time plotting and manoeuvring.

While Salmond and the SNP have one priority, all others who may be involved in the forthcoming battle have many other issues to fight over allowing Salmond to gently drip feed his view of the world into the ears of the Scottish electorate. If the Union is to be saved then this has to be rebutted and dealt with as and when it happens, not in 18 months time.

The Prime Minister fired the starting gun on the independence vote earlier this week, now it is time to take action and stop Alex Salmond having the playing field all to himself.  

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